Reflection for Sunday – November 20, 2022
Readings: 2 Samuel 5: 1-3; Colossians 1: 12-20; Luke 23: 35-43
Preacher : Nancy J. DeRycke
Just as the attention has settled down around Queen Elizabeth’s death and King Charles’ reign, the Church is celebrating Christ the King—another reflection on “Royals.”
Our world (and church?) has a fascination with royalty and power. So perhaps that’s part of the reason why the Church set the Feast of Christ the King in 1925, the culmination of the Church Year: Jesus reigning over all time. Jesus frequently spoke of the Kingdom of God. I have come to refer to it as “Kin-dom” of God because we are all “kin,” children of God.
The British Empire now is in process of changing currency and many government forms (e.g. “Long live the King” replacing “Queen”). They must change their way of speaking and thinking now that they have a King. We too, may have to continually change our way of thinking about Jesus. From those early Christians who assumed Jesus was going to be a King and build a Kingdom of land wealth and power on earth against other kingdoms, even to now, our understanding must continually change and update. This year more than others, I have been struck by the recent feastday of St. Pope John XXIII, who called for “reading the sign of the times” and “opening the windows to let the Spirit in.”
In the same vein, don’t you and I have to see Jesus and his Kingdom message in a different light for our time? To let the Spirit in so we can update our understanding of Jesus? In the early Church, Kingdom life was taking care of the widows and orphans and remaining faithful during persecution. In the time of the Inquisition, rightly or wrongly, Kingdom was seen as keeping the rules and eliminating heresy. When rule of the Papal States was taken from the Pope, that earthly power was replaced by a declaration of Infallibility—still another kind of kingly power. In other times, “Kingdom” was missionary spirit, teaching and sometimes forcing people to be baptized and to believe in God our way.
In our time, what does/could Kingdom life look like? Synodality offers new opportunities for a totally different kind of church and kin-dom. Some applaud it; some ignore or try to undermine the opening of doors for all to have a voice. How do we build the Kin-dom of God in our world with and for each other?
I talked with some millennials and gen-Xers who say we are in danger of people just “cashing out” (of jobs, of promises, of rules, of religions, etc.). And especially of listening to other points of view. Perhaps that is the challenge for our day—to open our minds, to talk with and listen to each other and not hold blindly firm to one opinion or belief without considering other possibilities. (We see it in current politics as well as church affairs, don’t we?)
I have seen the Kin-dom in neighbors who have started to reach out and take care of the elderly among us, in nurses and aides I work with in the Nursing Home who refuse to let any negative feelings get in the way of being kind to those they care for. I have seen it in parents who make sure they and their children see other parts of the city and talk respectfully with other cultures. Where have you seen today’s Kin-dom? In whom have you seen Jesus’ words of God’s love and building the Kingdom? How are you, how can you, be a Kin-dom person in your life here and now?
Those questions may seem overpowering for today. But Jesus’ words seemed overpowering in his day too. Let’s again open the windows of our hearts and our world, to get rid of stereotyping others so we can listen to each other, especially those we don’t agree with, and let the Spirit in.